Saturday, August 16, 2003
Sour Grapes - 16th August 2003, 11.37

Apropos to Bob's comment on Emmanuel's posting, it is clear that the French, worried that their reputation may have lost soem of the mud, decided to deny compensation for the grieving relatives of terrorist victims out of spite. Notice how their block of the Libyan package is couched in the values of solidarity, that favourite of the European Union although their statement does not mention the arrangement with Libya from 1999 where this issue was resolved. If they were so concerned with solidarity, why didn't they negotiate in tandem with the United States and Great Britain?

We hope that this painful episode can find an outcome that is satisfactory to our American and British partners and to the families of the victims. As you know, we have always maintained deep solidarity with our partners throughout this painful affair. We hope that they will do the same for the victims of UTA #772.

Their demands were quite clear: more money from Libya for French victims of terrorism before sanctions are lifted. Now, the rights and wrongs of that demand should not be used to veto another deal, since France proves an example of the 'free rider' problem in the political economy of foreign relations.

We maintain continuous contact with our Libyan interlocutors in order to obtain assurances that the legitimate demands of the families of the UTA victims, both French and foreign, are satisfied. We expect to see substantial progress on this point before any lifting of sanctions.

The French have always proved that they don't respect international treaties. In 2002, they started to abrogate the Antarctica Treaty by charging anchorage taxes and asserting their sovereignty over Antartican territory. Why shouldn't we kick them out for this unilateral action, against the wishes of all other signatories of the Antarctica treaty?

As part of this expedition, the "Sir Hubert Wilkins" had intended to visit Dumont d'Urville in the French Antacrtic Territory. On the 15th January, 2002, the "Sir Hubert Wilkins" received a message from Didier Drouet, the Station Leader on Dumont d'Urville informing them of their intention to charge the ship $2459.62 as an anchorage fee plus a personnel fee of $16.39 per person per day on board the ship. This has been interpreted as an assertion of sovereignty over the Antarctic Territory. This is in direct conflict with the ideals of the Antarctic Treaty.

The details are recorded in a statement from the Sir Hubert Wilkins.

The French Legislation as it currently stands is in breach of the Antarctic Treaty and does assert Sovereignty in Antarctica. It has no relevance what so ever to visiting Dumont d’Urville Base.

The Legislation is in two parts. The following covers the obvious relevant clauses justifying my assumption.

1. Decree number 2001-20 of 29 June 2001 Territorial Tax in Terre Australie et Antarctiques Francaises.

Article 1 - For every person entering French Antarctica, a personnel Tax is imposed to help with financing the cost of protection and restoration of the environment.

Article 2 - This Tax is imposed whenever a person sets foot on land within the Territories.

Article 3 - This Tax is imposed per person per day within the respective district.

Article 4 - The Tax is set out for the respective Territories - Terre Adelie (French Antarctic Territory) $16.39 Aust

Relevant Issues are that at no time is Dumont d’Urville Base ever mentioned and in fact it specifically refers to setting foot on land within the Territories to be charged per person per day whilst visiting the Territories, it must be assumed for whatever reason .

2. Decree number 2001- 19 of 29 June 2001. Anchorage Tax in Terre Australes et Antarctiques Francaises.

Article 1- An Anchorage Tax is imposed in French Antarctica.

Article 2- The Anchorage Tax is imposed when ever a vessel anchors within any of the districts of French Antarctica.

Article 3- The Anchorage Tax is set per vessel for fixed period of one month even if the stay is for a shorter period, within any of the district of French Antarctica.

Article 4- The Anchorage Tax is based on the size of the vessel as set out - 20- 50 metres $2459. Aust, 51 -100 metres $5739.

101 metres and above $12,298.

Relevant Issues here are that the Anchorage Tax is applicable to French Antarctic territory whenever and wherever a vessel anchors for up to one month. Specifically no mention is made of Dumont d’Urville Base.

In both Decrees any complaints regarding the Tax are to be forwarded to the Senior Administrator of Terres Australes et Antarctiques Francaises in Paris.

It's never too hard to find some nefarious example of their devious unilateralism. Why are the French so incompetent in their diplomacy?


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